The Future of Retirement: Longevity Lifestyle by Design

With more Canadians considering a 'second act' after work, it’s time the benefits and industry considered a new model

The Future of Retirement: Longevity Lifestyle by Design

Retirement is being reshaped due to several mega trends that are impacting all aspects of how we live, work, and play. Increasing longevity, shifting demographics, and the erosion of the three-pillar system of retirement planning are fundamentally changing how plan members experience retirement.

Life expectancy has increased by 30+ years over the last century. At the same time, improvements in healthcare have created a much longer period in midlife that can be a time of productivity and personal reinvention. Some have deemed the latter part of this extended midlife a second chapter or the third quarter of life. The pandemic over the last two years has also caused plan members to pause, reflect, and reset their lives, accelerating the desire for greater flexibility and purpose in how they spend their time.

Despite these trends, the benefits and retirement industry has not shifted to reflect the new retirement.

One-Size-Fits-All-Retirement No Longer Works

These changes are leading to a significant transformation in how plan members plan and transition into retirement. Not all retirees will want the same retirement and new stages in life will emerge because of an extended healthy period in midlife. These changes will result in:

  • Moving from a full-stop retirement to an evolution to a second chapter in life
  • Expanding the focus of planning to a more holistic approach that includes the non-financial aspects such as where to find a source of purpose and meaning in a second chapter
  • Planning as if all retirees want the same thing (e.g., travel, golf, and relaxation) to a fine-tuned personalized lifestyle

A new research study by Edwards Jones/Age Wave supports the notion of a new retirement. The study found that 54 per cent of Canadian retirees and pre-retirees say retirement is a new chapter in life, compared to 27 per cent who say it’s time for rest and relaxation.

Further, 55 per cent want to work in some way and say an ideal approach is a balance of work and leisure in retirement.

A Real Look into Retirement

The research by Age Wave and Edward Jones supports the real-life experience of pre-retirees and retirees that author and retirement coach Mike Drak has helped over the past six years since authoring his first book ‘Victory Lap Retirement.’

Drak was a 38-year veteran in the banking sector who failed at retirement not because he didn’t have enough money, but because he had not planned for the non-financial aspects of retirement and assumed that retirement should be full-stop from work. He experienced ‘Retirement Hell’ and is now on a mission to prevent others from making the same mistakes that he made when he transitioned into retirement.

Drak has spoken to thousands of retirees and is sharing what he’s learned about evolving into the second act in his new book ‘Longevity Lifestyle by Design.’ In the book, he outlines the seven fundamental needs every retiree has:

  • survival, safety, and certainty
  • love, connection, and acceptance
  • growth
  • contribution
  • significance, identity, and meaning
  • autonomy and freedom
  • variety

The book asks the question ‘What type of retiree are you?’ and describes how each type of retiree has different motivations and attitudes about what constitutes a happy retirement. While having enough money is an important part of a successful retirement, the book takes a more holistic approach and shares six core principles for a happy retirement:

  • The importance of relationships and community
  • Health is wealth
  • Financial independence provides ‘peace of mind’
  • Spirituality is highly personal
  • Healthy aging is all about attitude
  • Purpose gives you a reason to get out of bed

The book closes with a practical, how- to approach for anyone contemplating retirement or their second chapter called ‘Longevity Lifestyle by Design.’ The process takes a human-centred design approach to solving one of life’s most complex problems: what am I going to do with the rest of my life? How do I become the best version of myself and create a lifestyle that will make me happy?

Why Should Plan Sponsors Shift to Longevity Design?

There are a few reasons that plan sponsors should begin shifting to a longevity lifestyle design approach to retirement.

This approach can:

  • Reduce presenteeism by helping plan members who are on the fence about retiring envision a future that they are excited to pursue
  • Improve health claims by reducing the friction and anxiety of transitioning to retirement
  • Raise employer brand by reinforcing the focus on holistic plan member well- being
  • Retain knowledge by identifying opportunities to structure work with a retiring plan member to retain their knowledge
  • Plan sponsors can get started by first assessing their readiness for the future of work and offering longevity lifestyle by design programs such as:
  • Self-service education, worksheets, and tools to help plan members with longevity lifestyle design
  • Interactive workshops that are facilitated to walk plan members through the longevity lifestyle design process
  • Individual coaching with a certified retirement coach that can work with a plan member over a series of meetings to help design their lifestyle.

The Longevity Lifestyle Design Movement

The decision to retire is one of the most important decisions plan members will ever make. It involves major change which will either positively or negatively impact the rest of their lives.

Retirement comes along with significant emotional, psychological, physical, social, and financial implications that will affect a person’s overall well-being. These challenges need to be fully understood and prepared for prior to retiring.

The pension and benefits industry has focused on financial planning with the objective of helping people accumulate as much money as possible, but that falls short of what retirees need for a successful retirement. The focus needs to be expanded to include ‘longevity planning’ and how people can live their best life for as long as they can.

Drak and a group of contributors (including me) have spent the last year working on a guide to help people achieve this objective. Our goal is to help as many retirees as possible which is why we are giving our new book ‘Longevity Lifestyle by Design’ for free to anyone that wants a copy.

The book will equip retirees with the framework, insights, and strategies on how to live their best and longest life. After reading it, they will know exactly what they need to do, what not to do, and more importantly why.

Simply visit to download a free copy of the book and worksheet. We ask that you share this book with others within the pension and benefits industry so we can help plan members design a second chapter that they would be happy to wake up to everyday!

The Game of Life for the Next Generation

The concept of retirement is being redefined by the Boomer generation so what does increasing longevity mean for Gen X and future generations. Chapter 17 explores whether the traditional concept of retirement will resonate with future generations and how they will define a life well-lived. The chapter asks the retirement industry and future generations whether they are playing the original Game of Life or whether they are re-writing the rules for how life is lived today and in the future.


Simon Chan is the Founder and CEO of Adopt with Intent Inc.